January 06, 2016

That Sound

I hear it from across the house.

I can tell when it is coming from just looking at him from across the kitchen.

I hear it during the middle of the night as I sleep with one eye open.

And I go running.

I survey the scene.  I run get my mask and return to him.

That sound.

It is the sound of retching.

I only hear a single "hhuuuurrrreeehhh"  {how would you phonetically spell the retch sound??} and I know the rest of the day and week has dramatically changed course.

Every intrusion on his body, from pink eye to a stubbed pinky toe, comes with vomit.

Every virus makes its grand entrance with vomit and will linger the same way until the very end.

An end that takes too long to arrive at.

Medially fragile.

That is all that can explain it.

My other kids might have the same virus, a simple fever that lasts for 18 hours.

For Bridger, it is 2 weeks at home battling vomit and fever, with the fear for every time I hear that sound that he will aspirate unless I get there in time because he doesn't have the instinct to turn his head as he is laying there on his back in his bed.  We sing praises to the pharmaceutical manufacturers of Zofran.  We care for Bridger 24/7 in 20 minute increments until I can no longer keep him stable - as the virus can start affecting other systems, and then we spend the final 5 days in the hospital where he can stabilize and likely go home with something secondary contracted in the hospital.

There is something heartwarming and pathetic at the same time when I walk down the hallway of the peds unit at the hospital and the nurses are shouting out their greetings of welcome to Bridger, asking what's new since the last time he was there, telling me that they like my haircut and coming to me with a big mug of water and a pack of Lorna Doone cookies, "my usual", without me even having to request it.

We spent the first 5 days of 2016 in the hospital, Bridger's third New Year's Day celebrated there.  There is a delightful silver lining, however.  With the way our insurance benefits are structured, we pay 100% of everything until we reach our out of pocket max.  I am pleased, once again, to report that we achieved that limit in January, which makes insurance matters the rest of the year incredible easy.  I really do love it when the insurance battles for the year can be drastically minimized through an early health challenge.

endoscopy, stomach biopsy, room draped in sheeting per our "contact" label 

I am supposed to still be "recovering" from my surgery.  That word deserves quotes around it because what is recovery really?  I had the nurses assist me in changing his diarrhea diapers that were coming every 20 minutes for the first 2 days.  But other than that, this was a hard one.  Hard, because Bridger wasn't so agreeable this time around.  He was up all night the first night and very demanding of me.  After the first night, I had Alan take over the hospital duty and he and I went into our routine of him spending the night at the hospital, with his work clothes and briefcase with him.  Alan gets ready for work at the hospital as I get the kids off to school, then I dash off to the hospital and Alan goes from there to work, returning to the hospital after work as I go home to the kids and from there we bounce back and forth.  It is a routine we know and do well.  We are a well oiled machine -- a tired well-oiled machine.

During our times when Bridger is sick and we are tending to his bedside around the clock, or when he is in the hospital, Heaven is very close.  The power of who Bridger is, and the Presence of who is ultimately most mindful and aware of him, is a pure and formidable feeling that fills our home.

The lessons of faith, of prayer, of priorities and perspective are taught by Bridger in the most raw and powerful form to my other children - who are great students in those lessons.

In between all of those great lessons, and the gears of our machine that grind to keep life going for the rest of the family, that sound is echoing in my ear.  It haunts me.

That single sound.